November 30, 2007
Bored Now; Turn the Page
The gasps of shock and screams of outrage must have been audible from the pot parlors of Berkeley, to the brahmin bashes on Beacon Hill, to the tea and cucumber sandwich fundraisers in Chappaqua: John Murtha has "gone native!"
And indeed, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA, 65%) -- the poster boy for "immediately" ending the war and redeploying all of our troops to next-door Okinawa, whence they could respond to any sudden terror threat in a scant four or five weeks -- went to Iraq, came back, and made some remarks yesterday about the counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy that can only be described as a laudatory about-face:
The Pennsylvania Democrat gave qualified but likely his most glowing remarks Thursday about the Iraq war.
"I think the surge is working, but that's only one element," said Murtha, who chairs the defense appropriations subcommittee. "And the surge is working for a couple of different reasons. And one reason is the increase in troops."
Murtha hastened to assure everyone yesterday he was still for yanking the troops out instanter, and he quickly moved today to claim that the drop in violence in Iraq was another black eye for the Bush administration; still, however, he now finds himself in the growing club of anti-war Democrats who have been forced by circumstance -- or would that be "mugged by reality?" -- into admitting the surge of success by the COIN strategy led by Gen. David Petraeus (Commander Multinational Force - Iraq) and presided over by President George W. Bush.
This singular admission by more and more Democrats may well be responsible for the second leg of our political journey: Now that we are clearly winning, Democrats are simply losing interest in Iraq. They've abruptly grown bored with the Iraq war as an election issue. Now they want to talk about socialist economics, the evils of Bush, and -- ominously enough, from the Democratic perspective -- they want to talk a lot more about illegal immigration:
Congressional Democrats are reporting a striking change in districts across the country: Voters are shifting their attention away from the Iraq war.
Rep. Jim Cooper, a moderate Democrat from Tennessee, said not a single constituent has asked about the war during his nearly two-week long Thanksgiving recess. Rep. Michael E. Capuano, an anti-war Democrat from Massachusetts, said only three of 64 callers on a town hall teleconference asked about Iraq, a reflection that the war may be losing power as a hot-button issue in his strongly Democratic district.
First-term Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-Kan.) -- echoing a view shared by many of her colleagues -- said illegal immigration and economic unease have trumped the Iraq war as the top-ranking concerns of her constituents.
In an interview with Politico, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) attributed the change to a recent reduction of violence and media coverage of the conflict, saying there is scant evidence that more fundamental problems with the Bush administration’s policy are improving. Even so, he agreed voters are certainly talking less about the war. “People are not as engaged daily with the reality of Iraq,” Hoyer said.
The change in mood perceived by Democratic lawmakers comes as one of Congress’ most vocal war critics, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), returned from a trip to Iraq and told reporters Thursday that “the surge is working” to improve security, even though the central government in Baghdad remains “dysfunctional.”
So we're back to Murtha. But he didn't just stop after saying "the surge" was working; he went on to find so many different ways to contradict himself, it beggars the imagination. From the Fox News story:
Murtha, speaking to reporters Thursday in his hometown of Johnstown, Pa., mixed in renewed criticism of the Bush administration's management of the Iraq war, saying it was waged with too few troops, and that it is too costly.
"We can no longer afford to spend $14 billion a month on this war and let our readiness slip," Murtha said.
But, "If you put more forces in, things will work out," he said. [Wouldn't that cost more?]
"But the thing is, the Iraqis have to do this themselves," he added. "We can't win it for them in Afghanistan or Iraq, and provinces they've (Iraqi forces) taken over, we've done better. We can't win."
Has the honorable congressman ever considered medication?
So what is actually causing the sudden deflation of Iraq as an election issue, particularly among Democrats? I think it's pretty clear: Not just Democratic office holders but Americans in general are beginning to accept the reality that we're now winning the Iraq war:
For the first time in a long time, nearly half of Americans express positive opinions about the situation in Iraq. A growing number says the U.S. war effort is going well, while greater percentages also believe the United States is making progress in reducing the number of Iraqi casualties, defeating the insurgents and preventing a civil war in Iraq.
Roughly half of the public (48%) believes the U.S. military effort in Iraq is going very or fairly well. Judgments about the overall situation in Iraq have been improving steadily since the summer. As recently as June, only about a third of Americans (34%) said things were going well in Iraq.
To be specific, currently:
- 74% of Republicans think we're doing well, up from a low of 51% in February.
- Democrats who think we're doing well have more than doubled since then, up from 16% to 33% today.
- Indies have gone from 26% in February to 41% now.
- Finally, back in January, 42% of respondents said that Iraq was the worst problem facing America today, making it number one; it's still number one... but now, only 32% say it's the worst problem.
And there's your genesis for the loss of interest in the war as a political issue in the upcoming election.
Democrats are still frantically trying to spin away the rising tide of belief that we're winning; they note that the same Pew poll that shows a rise in those who think we're winning has not yet shown any drop in the number of Americans who want the troops to come home. But there is no reason to expect different aspects of public opinion to move in lockstep; even within public-opinion polling, itself a lagging indicator, we have less-lagging and more-lagging elements.
Logically, public opinion on how we're doing must change first; then opinion on what we should do next will change in response somewhat later. Finally, I believe the last thing to change, the "most lagging" of the lagging indicators, would be the public decision on whether the war was worth it.
But I cannot think of a single instance in which a public perception of American victory was not followed by increased willingness to stay and fight -- and also by a retroactive decision that yes, the fight was indeed worth it all: Time mutes all pain.
(Vietnam is not a counterexample, because despite our resounding victory there under Gen. Creighton Abrams, the American public was tricked by leftists such as Walter Cronkite into believing we were losing, when in fact we were winning. There never was a public perception of American victory and still is not today -- though that is finally starting to change, with the advent of talk radio, which drives publishers to publish serious conservative tomes; and by the arrival of "new media," which allows Americans to discuss the new information coming out about Vietnam.)
If the election becomes focused on economics, that is a much easier argument for Republicans to win; they can contrast their own budgetary proposals to the wild taxing and spending that Democrats have already promised. If it becomes focused on illegal immigration, then I don't know if anybody has an advantage -- if anything, slight advantage to Democrats; but that's a far cry from the huge advantage on the Iraq war that Democrats enjoyed in the 2006 election. And of course, there will be a lot less focus on the "Republican culture of corruption," with the Democrats' predictable failure to do anything substantive about the very abuses they screamed about last year... notably earmarks. (And no Mark Foley problem!)
So we're moving in the right direction. I fully expect that by the time the election rolls around, the number of Americans demanding we pull out will have fallen drastically (it's about 50% right now)... and those saying the Iraq invasion was worth it will be well over the 50% line.
At that moment, the Democrats may bitterly regret their long and frantic campaign to cram defeat in Iraq down America's throat. Running against America has rarely been a winning electoral strategy; I believe the Democrats are about to re-experience that painful lesson.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 30, 2007, at the time of 4:56 PM
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Tracked on December 7, 2007 12:00 AM
The following hissed in response by: Terrye
I think you are right about this.
The above hissed in response by: Terrye at November 30, 2007 6:15 PM
The following hissed in response by: Fat Man
Has the honorable congressman ever considered lithium?
Lithium is for bi-polar disorder. If he were b-p, he would have depressive phases where we would not hear from him. Since he yaps incessently, I would rule out that diagnosis.
I wonder if the atypical anti-psychotic drugs, like Risperdal, which are very effective in treating senile psychoses, can be used to treat Democrats suffering from their real disease, delusional liberalism.
The following hissed in response by: hunter
I pray your conclusion is right.
The following hissed in response by: Geoman
"But there is no reason to expect different aspects of public opinion to move in lockstep."
But in this case, they do. Americans believe we are winning. If we win, then the troops are no longer needed and can come home.
There is no lag in perception. It is forward thinking!
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